Holland $ 1,000. Holland rejected this offer.
Thereafter, Holland brought to an attorney the passenger copy of her ticket, which has disappeared. Holland hired another attorney and filed suit in this court on 19 January 1990, sixteen months after her injury, praying for general damages, medical expenses, and loss of earnings.
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A dispute as to material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1976).
A. Whether the Contractual Limitation of the Period for Filing a Lawsuit Is Valid
46 U.S.C. App. § 763a provides a three-year statute of limitations for filing a maritime tort. 46 U.S.C. App. § 183b(a) allows sea carriers to place in their carriage contracts a one-year limit on passenger suits for personal injuries. Courts incorporate such a limitation into a passenger ticket contract only if the sea carrier reasonably communicated to its passengers that the contractual term affects their legal rights. See, e.g., Spataro v. Kloster Cruise, Ltd., 894 F.2d 44, 45-46 (2d Cir. 1990). Whether the notice to passengers was reasonably adequate is a question of law. Nash v. Kloster Cruise A/S, 901 F.2d 1565, 1567 (11th Cir. 1990).
The proper test of reasonably adequate notice depends on an analysis of the overall circumstances of each case. Shankles v. Costa Armatori, S.P.A., 722 F.2d 861, 866 (1st Cir. 1983). The parties in this case agree that two elements are relevant. The first element is the physical characteristics of the ticket contract: the language and placement of the limiting provision. See, e.g., Nash, supra, 901 F.2d at 1567; Shankles, supra, 722 F.2d at 864. The second element is the circumstances surrounding the passenger's purchase and subsequent retention of the ticket contract, that is, any factors indicating the passenger's ability to become meaningfully informed of the contractual terms at stake. Shankles, supra, 722 F.2d at 865-66.
Holland does not dispute whether Kloster has satisfied the first element: the ticket prominently advised passengers to read certain provisions, including the time limitation on lawsuits. Holland does dispute whether Kloster has satisfied the second element. She argues that because she surrendered her copy of the ticket to her attorney in the spring of 1989, she did not have subsequent possession of it and therefore did not have the ability to become meaningfully informed of the time limitation. This argument ignores the undisputed fact that Holland had the ticket in her possession after boarding the ship and for at least six months after the end of the cruise. She had plenty of time to read the ticket and inform herself of its contents.
There is no genuine dispute of material fact whether the contractual limitation of the period for filing a lawsuit is valid.
B. Whether Kloster Is Estopped From Relying on the Contractual Limitation
Holland argues that Kloster may nevertheless not rely on this contractual limitation because Caribbean, Kloster's agent, led her to believe that it was negotiating in good faith to settle her complaint fairly and in reliance on this inducement she refrained from filing a lawsuit against Kloster.
Three elements are required before the tolling of a statute of limitations may be estopped:
(1) the party to be estopped must be apprised of the facts;